SaaS EDA Roundtable at DVCON

I’m arranging for a meeting room for an EDA SaaS roundtable discussion at DVCon in San Jose sometime between Feb 24 – Feb 26.  What I need is some volunteers to help me organize this event. For instance:

  • What will be the format and topics for discussion?
  • Who will be the key participants?
  • What do we hope to get out of this event?
  • Who is bringing the refreshments?

If you are concerned about the time commitment, I think it will be fairly minimal.  I was part of a group that helped organize the Blogger Birds of a Feather session at DAC last year and it took about an hour on 3-4 Saturday mornings.

If you would like to be part of the planning for this event, please let me know.

Also, if your company would like to be part of the roundtable, please let me know as well.

harry the ASIC guy

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7 Responses to “SaaS EDA Roundtable at DVCON”

  1. Sean Murphy says:

    Semifore ( ) offers a SaaS version of their csrCompiler, I am sure that either Herbie Winsted and/or Richard Weber from there would be happy to help you out planning and participating in the event.

  2. Jeremy Ralph says:

    Harry, I hate to miss this, but I will not be at DVCon this year. If I was, I would help and definitely attend the session.

    As for discussion topics, some that I think would be relevant include:

    1) What is SaaS? Is it simply software that is licensed using a subscription model? Is it software that is hosted, and accessed using a VPN? Or, is it a full blown web-application that the user logs into and can access using just a browser and/or web API? My purist definition is that it must be accessible using just a web-browser over the web.

    2) What benefits does SaaS offer design automation? Lower cost of engagement due to economies of scale. Quicker path to evaluation using the web, with no software to install. Easier maintenance and support. Lower IT and CAD costs. Better real-time collaboration across sites and locations. Easier to use and learn.

    This DVCon session is very relevant to what we do at PDTi since, is a pure SaaS web-application that runs in a web browser using encryption. It is being used for production by multiple ASIC companies. For verification, both VMM register abstraction layer (RAL) and OVM SystemVerilog are supported.

    I hope there will be similar sessions at other upcoming conferences. In the spirit of SaaS web-applications, and the cost effectiveness of the new SaaS era, maybe there is a way we could have a remote round-table via Skype and WebEx or Dimdim sometime. Anyone interested in this?

  3. Sean Murphy says:

    Jeremy, I agree with your definition of SaaS as an application that is remotely hosted and only needs a web browser to access. And I agree with the benefits you outline, with some caveats I discuss below. I think the drawbacks are also worth mentioning:

    1. A new way of doing business in EDA that customers may be unfamiliar with.

    2. Involves key design data going “outside the firewall” which always arouses security concerns.

    3. Depending upon the size of the design files shuffled back and forth may have limited suitability for applications that involve multi-gigabyte databases.

    I would be careful about promising better real time collaboration, since many of the major semiconductor and system house internal networks have superior bandwidth and latency compared to their public Internet connections.

    Depending upon the runtimes involved may look more like a batch submittal than a web session: in other words leveraging a remote simulation farm where each job runs for an hour or more may be a valid SaaS offering but may only use HTTP as a transport for submittal. I wouldn’t limit SaaS to purely interactive applications since so many EDA jobs may run for CPU hours (if not days) to do useful work. We already see design teams leveraging open source simulators on cloud platforms, I would include this in SaaS (or at least I believe that it offers an equally likely use model to interactive).

    None of this is meant to imply that SaaS/cloud won’t have a transformational impact on EDA, but I would also bear in mind Paul Saffo’s advice not to mistake a clear view for a short distance. Richard Newton and his group at Berkeley saw SaaS as around the corner 15 years ago.

  4. harry says:

    Hi Jeremy,

    Lemme see what I can do to set up a Skype connection. I’d love to have the session recorded and posted as well.


  5. James Colgan says:

    Hello Harry,

    Count me in. I have some ideas about sponsorship as well.

    I can see that an EDA SaaS discussion would easily bleed into “Cloud Computing”. Due to the applications and use-models within EDA it is somewhat inevitable. So I’d suggest adding this piece into the topic.


  6. Jeremy Ralph says:

    >>I would be careful about promising better real time collaboration, since many of the major semiconductor and system house internal networks have superior bandwidth and latency compared to their public Internet connections.

    I suppose real-time collaboration is more a benefit of web-Apps in general rather than a benifit of SaaS. For the type of collaboration that I’m talking about the bandwidth requirements are low enough that Intra vs. Internet is practically irrelevant. Google docs & spreadsheet are some of the best collaborative apps I know of and they are SaaS. Yes, the local network will be faster than the Internet. There are, however, times when one wants to collaborate with parties outside the firewall… the world is not an island.

    Another dimension to consider, is that SaaS involves a good deal of collaboration between the vendor and the user, so the SaaS vendor is better able to rapidly adapt to the customers needs.

  7. harry says:

    Jeremy and Sean,

    Regarding collaboration, having been on both sides (customer and EDA vendor), support becomes much easier if the vendors can access the same design environment that the designers are using. For instance, if I hit a bug, the options currently are:

    1) Customer puts together a testcase and sends to vendor.
    2) AE comes on site and tries to help debug
    3) Customer enables VNC sort of connection for AE to see issue remotely

    Option 1 can be a lot of work for the customer (to the point where a lot of customers will just live with the issue rather than put together a testcase with libraries, etc.)

    Option 2 can take time to schedule and requires an AE to go to a customer site. Fine if you are in Milpitas, but not if you are located away from a vendor office.

    Option 3 is a good choice and will work in a lot of cases, if the customer allows this sort of connection. However, it does not allow the full range of debug that can be provided with a shared environment (e.g. running the debugger version of the application).

    A collaborative environment would allow the best responsiveness and quality of support. At the same time, all the issues previously raised regarding data security, a single environment that can fulfill an entire subflow, etc. will need to be addressed. It may be a good choice for a point tool that can be run standalone, but it’s not there yet for a more complete flow unless you go with a single vendor solution (e.g. what Cadence is supposedly offering as SaaS).


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